Seven Questions with Brent Thompson
By Alan Fuehring, SoundTigers.com
We're less than four months from the start of the Sound Tigers' 2017-18 campaign, which will mark the team's 17th season in the American Hockey League and Brent Thompson's fifth as head coach. And while things are calm in the coach's office for now, we took the opportunity to sit down with Bridgeport's bench boss and catch up on the offseason.
Thompson discusses his summer, AHL free agency and more.
1. How has your summer been?
Brent Thompson: "Professionally, it's been a process of reevaluation; accessing each piece of the team, staff and everything really. How do we get better? That is really the question you ask after every season. How do we get better and what are the most important pieces? We have already had many successful meetings with our staff as well as Chris Lamoriello (Director of Player Personnel), Kerry Gwydir (Assistant to the General Manager) and Eric Cairns (Director of Player Development) discussing those topics. We all have opinions on what needs to improve and what direction we want to go. On the personal side, you get to take a little break. I was fortunate that I got to see both of my kids play [Tage, Chicago Wolves (AHL) and Tyce, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)] and I'm getting some family time. That's really the biggest key over the summer is your family time and getting to reboot."
2. You mentioned family time is key. Are both of your sons spending the summer at home?
Brent Thompson: "Well, they're both at home, but it seems like they're not (laughing). Tage is up at UConn right now training and preparing for his first full professional season, as well as catching up on his college courses. Tyce is home from his little stint in the USHL and he's just training and helping out with chores around the house. It's nice to have them around. It gives us a chance to golf together or whatever else."
3. When does the process of AHL free agency pick up and how involved are you?
Brent Thompson: "We've been having meetings with our great staff of scouts and management and we'll begin to submit a list of players we're interested in through the course of the league who are potential free agents. Our scouts and management will be the ones who will primarily go through the free agency lists and if there are questions, I'm available to give my opinion. Free agency signings won't really pick up until after July 1."
4. There's always potential for many returning faces next season. How does that affect your mindset considering you had a 92-point team in 2016-17?
Brent Thompson: "I definitely think we're making strides in the right direction. Seeing the returning players from 2015-16 to last year, when you look at the Holmstrom brothers, etc., I think it gives us a lot of stability. Those are conversations we as a staff need to make the right decisions on, and obviously we will get a lot of help from the Islanders. It just brings stability for the organization and for the new young guys coming in; that there's already a group of built-in leaders who understand our expectations. Thankfully that group led us to a 90-plus point season last year."
5. What kind of identity would you like to see for your team in 2017-18?
Brent Thompson: "You're going to see a hardworking team and that's never going to change. Every team says they work hard, but when you really see us day in and day out, our identity is going to be hard, in-your-face, fast-paced hockey."
6. What are you hoping to see/accomplish during New York Islanders' Development Camp later this month?
Brent Thompson: "It's a great opportunity to build relationships with some of the potential new guys coming in. I think that's the biggest thing. You want to be able to build that relationship so when they come to main camp, they're aware of what my expectations are, and what the Islanders' whole philosophy is. Outside of that, there's going to be an educational piece, instructing these young guys on what the expectations are off the ice as far as summer training; where they're at and where they need to be."
7. How did you hit them in the Orthopaedic Specialty Group Education Foundation Charity Golf Tournament last Wednesday?
Brent Thompson: "Terrible. Other than my shot out of someone's golf cart, it wasn't very good (laughing). No, honestly, I think it's huge to be involved in the community, to be a part of these charity events and be able to give back to the community in whatever ways we can. In that particular tournament, it was a lot of fun. The doctors do a lot for us throughout the season and the fact that the proceeds benefit the education of future medical professionals, it was great to be able to personally support their cause."